Hearing on PSE&G power line continues Monday
By SETH AUGENSTEINsaugenstein@njherald.com
NEWARK — Fundamental power grid strategy was on debate at the Board of Public Utilities offices Thursday and Friday.
500-kilovolt, high-tension controversy known as the
Susquehanna-Roseland power line outlined a no-man’s land of the
escalating national energy battle —whether traditional, large-scale
energy generation and transmission methods are the best solution for
the future, or if renewable, alternative, and diversified electricity
sources and efficiency are a better choice.
grid operator PJM Interconnec-tion and power company PSE&G
described dire future power needs, saying power from the Midwest needs
to be brought to the East Coast for reliable, cheap power. An
alternative energy advocate disagreed, outlining a process of demand
reduction and renewables that would obviate the need of “energy
A dozen attorneys representing supporters and
objectors to the Susquehanna-Roseland cross-examined and argued over
statistics, tongue-twisting acronyms, engineering details and reports
over the course of the two full days, sandwiched in the full week’s
worth of evidentiary hearings ending tomorrow.
The need issue is
considered to be the climax in the hearings, and could be the main
decider in the controversial power plans before the BPU, which propose
erecting a power line that would double the height and power of a
45-mile stretch running from Pennsylvania through Sussex County, and
onto Roseland, in Essex County. Roughly 18 miles of the length are in
Sussex County, from Stillwater, to Fredon, Newton, Andover, Byram,
Hopatcong and Sparta, before the line moves on to Morris County.
the state’s largest electric utility, said it needs to build the line
and have it operating by 2012 to meet the electricity demands and
reliability requirements expected for the region in the coming decades.
have rallied around several issues, including safety and health issues
stemming from the system, the potential environmental damage the
construction project will do, the visual and property value impact of
the towers, and whether bringing in electricity generated in other
states meets New Jersey’s goals of increasing so-called “green” and
renewable sources of power.
On Friday, the PJM witnesses were
challenged by a rapid-fire hour of questioning from Cynthia Holland,
New Jersey’s deputy attorney general, who represented the BPU. The PJM
experts admitted “uncertainty” in their forecasts of power consumption
increasing sharply beginning in 2012. But, they said, those projections
are the best models for the future, and demand a “robust” solution like
the Susquehanna-Roseland, instead of individual “Band-Aids” for the 23
long-term power violations on the line, according to Paul McGlynn,
manager in PJM’s transmission planning department.
significant uncertainty around all elements of the planning process,”
added Steven Herling, PJM’s vice president of planning. “The risk of
being wrong is ... customers will have unreliable service.”
Jersey’s goals of clean and renewable energy in the state’s energy
master plan also became a live wire during the long hours of testimony.
Julia LeMense, a lawyer for various environmental groups, questioned
Esam Khadr, PSE&G director of electric delivery planning, about
differences of opinion over pricing between the power company and PJM.
Eventually, PJM’s “Project Mountaineer” — the export of coal-based
energy from the Ohio Valley to the Northeast — was tied into the
“There is a big difference between Project Mountaineer
and Susquehanna-Roseland,” Khadr stated, denying any connection between
The objectors’ energy expert, Chris Cooper, advocated a
future of energy efficiency and renewable energy eliminating the need
for lines such as the Susquehanna-Roseland. Steven Goldenberg, the
attorney for intevenor-supporter Exelon, led a line of questioning
pointing out whether such an energy future could be in place by the
time problems could arise on the grid. Cooper said the numbers could
prove so — but those variables were unavailable from both PJM and
“They say, ‘We think we can solve X, but we can’t tell you what ‘X’ is,’” Cooper said.
abounded among the lawyers. But Joseph Fiordaliso, presiding alone over
the hearings, allowed almost all testimony into a voluminous record.
“I’d like to hear some of the answers myself,” he said at one point. “It might be the meat of the hearing.”
hearings are expected to conclude Monday, with experts based on
electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) and property values, among other